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Hurricane Irma victims get help from Charlie Pickett, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck

South Florida garage-rock icon Charlie Pickett and guitarist Peter Buck of R.E.M. are raising money for Hurricane Irma relief with sales of a new single, “What I Like About Miami.”

All profits from sales of the song, available via Bloodshot Records in a variety of digital formats, as well as Pickett’s 2008 retrospective album “Bar Band Americanus,” will support storm victims via DirectRelief.org. To download the song, visit BloodshotRecords.com.

Piling Pickett’s forceful growl on top of razor-sharp shards of bluesy slide guitar tossed between himself and Buck, “What I Like About Miami” has been a feature of Pickett’s live shows for several years. The new version of the song was recorded with Buck about a year ago for a yet-to-be-released Pickett album, with help from local performers including Bobby Tak, Diane Ward, Pat Hunter-Mayer and Ian Hammond.

Pickett says the decision to release it early as a single was a no-brainer.

“We came up with the idea when [Irma] was a Cat 5. I woke up in that nether land between sleep and wake and I went, ‘Oh, my God, of course,’” Pickett says. “At my age, I ain’t expecting to make money off records, so if you can help out a little bit, what the [expletive], do it.”

Pickett and his property came through Irma without serious damage, but he is mindful that many folks “got beat up badly.”

As the title suggests, the song is an ode to the culture and lifestyle that have allowed South Florida to maintain its grip on Pickett, who grew up in Dania before becoming one of the region’s most respected musicians beginning in the 1980s. R.E.M. and Pickett developed a relationship on and offstage, and Buck produced Pickett’s 2008 album “The Wilderness.”

“I like South Florida. … I really have, over my life, appreciated it more and more,” says Pickett, now a trial lawyer in Boynton Beach. “When you’re young, you always want to move to the mountains, and when you get a little bit older, you want to move to a big city, like New York or something like that. I always came back here.”

bcrandell@sun-sentinel.com

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